Skate Culture

Impressions of “Made in Venice”

I was privileged to receive a copy of Made in Venice today. As many will know, Made in Venice is a recently released documentary film which chronicles the rise of the Venice Beach skate-park with a particular focus on the efforts of pro-skateboarder and Venice local, Jesse Martinez.

Here’s the thing though: this is not just a documentary about a skate-park. No, this is much more than that and in telling that story, a story that is so very important to that community, it tells the story of the Venice community itself. (I would make note that it particularly highlights the skate community but that somehow seems redundant. Venice, surfing and skating are virtually eponymous.)

From my perspective, this is a must see documentary. This isn’t a bit of superfluous film on the peripheries of skateboarding interest. This isn’t a story that will only be of interest to the locals. Anywhere else that may well hold true, but this is right at the heart and soul of skateboarding and the skate culture. This is Venice.

In the film you’re going to see all sorts of vintage video, especially from the 1980’s, showing the Venice skate community in action. Now I’ve seen a lot of vintage skate video in my time and, what’s more, I actively seek it out, but I can tell you this: I have not seen any of this footage before. This is true “locals only” material — and what a privilege to be able to see it and get a real sense of the look and feel and vibe of the Venice skate scene in those days.

The film is filled with legends both ripping and providing their insights. You’ll hear from the Dogtown godfathers, Jeff Ho, Skip Engblom and Craig Stecyk; the godsons too: Z-boys like Jay Adams, Jim Muir and others also feature. If that weren’t enough, Christian Hosoi also features prominently, amongst others.

Jesse Martinez and Jay Adams

What comes out of the film is the passion of this community and the sense of loyalty and family to be found there — a sense that is found in the skate community at large I think for, to one extent or another, we are all adopted children of Dogtown. Whether you have the privilege of living in the community or not, it defines those of us who love skateboarding and the skate culture.

By the way, there are also some really great extras on the DVD. Aside from the usual sorts you’ll also get a little view into how skateboards are made; you’ll get a “day in the life” of Venice. Best of all, you’ll get a fair bit of a “vintage Venice skateboarding” video from the 1980’s scene.

I wasn’t entirely certain to know what to expect from this film when I first looked into it. To be honest, had it been about anywhere else, I’d likely have passed it over. But this was about Venice, and Venice always merits a closer look. Not only was I not disappointed, I was completely engrossed in the film and privileged to not only feel a greater connection to the story of the Venice skate-park by the end of it, I also gained an even greater sense of the historical Venice skateboarding scene.

My recommendation: Go and pick up a copy. You can  purchase or rent it online or you can buy it in hardcopy for $14.99 USD.

Treat yourself and support Venice, the heart and soul of the skate culture. 

Jesse Martinez, Natas Kaupas, Christian Hosoi.
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